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Fearless Femininity by Women in American Theatre (1910s to 2010s) By Lynne Greeley ...

Chapter :  Introduction
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Fearless Femininity by Women in American Theatre (1910s to 2010s)

Introduction

Femininity Meets Feminism

The idea of femininity is often resisted by feminists who find its constraints both confining and limiting, with images of “the big-haired, long-nailed women who won’t change a tire” as a standard.1 My position in this study is to reclaim femininity from its negative stereotypes and proclaim its importance to feminism by demonstrating how artists in theatre have used it as a dramaturgical tool to empower women and the female-identified both onstage and off. Toward this end, the book has three interlinked purposes: first, to reclaim the idea of femininity as a cultural artifact of power in the play texts and performances by women in twentieth- and early twenty-first-century theatre in the United States; second, to recover the work of several first- and second-wave feminists for their larger contributions to theatre history and criticism; and third, to consider how artists of the third wave in theatre and performance art break boundaries that cross genres, styles, disciplines, media, and even nations. Working from the beginning of the twentieth century, when women were claiming the right to be in a public space while keeping their private reputations intact, to the beginning of the twenty-first century, when female artists claim and display their own bodies by choice, artists in American2 theatre have proved that the performance of the feminine belongs no longer to